San Diego State University  

AFRL ML-RCP Partner Institution Strengths & Capabilities Survey


Contact Information

John Crockett

Associate Vice President Research Advancement



1. Please select the research areas in which your institution currently engages.


2. Please note, in detail, any research areas of strength not listed above. This may include fundamental sciences (e.g., math, physics, biology, etc.).



3. Are there any emerging areas of research your institution is actively seeking to develop?


SDSU’s future directions are presently best summarized by the areas of focus anticipated for the new Mission Valley Innovation District. The SDSU Innovation

District will include roughly 1.6 million square feet of office, technology, and research space located adjacent to the stadium to activate the space and create an incubatorlike feel to the area. In partnership with publicprivate partners, the Innovation District will provide collaborative research partnerships and create more opportunities for public engagement and interaction with public and private industry partners.


Developed primarily through publicprivate partnerships, the SDSU Innovation District will facilitate internships, create new educational experiences, inspire innovative discoveries, advance technology, and foster new research.


The interdisciplinary focus areas anticipated are: Health Education Innovation (including public health and equity in clinical trials); Climate Resilience and Sustainable Energy (including environmental justice), Transportation, Aerospace, and Security (including logistics, livibility, and crossborder commerce), Cyber and Digital Technology (including AI/ML), Global Futures, Social Justice and Innovation (including social entrepreneurship), and Media and Entertainment (including production and journalism).


4. Does your institution have any internal research centers or participate in any research consortia?

San Diego State University has more than 70 robust and active centers and institutes that serve as collaborative and innovative nuclei of research, scholarship, and action. Many of our centers and institutes work in partnership with Southern California governments, agencies, nonprofits corporations, and universities. Others have a global reach that spans five continents.


Center for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN)

Karen Emmorey –

Scientists in the Center for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience have broad and extensive expertise in the neuropsychology and neuroscience of a number of developmental conditions, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), and attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Computational Science Research Center

Jose Castillo –

Its mission is to promote the development and advancement of computational science by bringing together researchers in different areas who have a common interest in modern scientific computation.


Center for Earth Systems Analysis Research Lab (CESAR)

Douglas Stow –

This EPAUSDA sponsored project aims to quantify the water and sediment budget of an urbanizing watershed on the USMexico border. Two models are linked to estimate sediment production, one from the hillslope (AnnAGNPS) and the second from the stream channel (CONCEPTS).


Communication Systems and Signal Processing Institute (COSSPI)

Satish Sharma –

The Institute seeks to advance the stateoftheart in communication systems through research, scholarship, education, service, and outreach. The Institute conducts research, development, and design work, and serves as a vehicle for fostering collaboration and scientific exchange between industry and academia. Through corporate and government sponsorship, the Institute supports faculty, graduate students, visiting scholars, and engineering professionals engaged in this field.


5. Please provide a list of relevant facilities and equipment.



6. Does your institution have a relationship with any other academic institution or research organization(s) that enables your access to their facilities and equipment?


Many regional institutions (e.g., UCSD) have the capacity to offer facility and equipment access on a recharge basis. However, many facilities are already severely impacted with requests for services, so there can be significant time delays.


Moores Cancer Center at UCSD

As a National Cancer Institute (NCI)designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we hold the highest possible rating for a U.S. cancer center. This designation is reserved for centers with experts in every medical subspecialty, pushing boundaries to improve approaches for preventing, diagnosing and treating cancers. SDSU affiliated faculty have full access to MCC facilities, equipment, and clinics.


7. Has your institution collaborated with Department of Defense in the past?

Below is a partial list of current Air Forcefunded projects at SDSU. These are a small sample of projects and collaborations with a variety of DOD components.


8. Is your institution involved in any federal STEM funding efforts?

SDSU received nearly $165M in grants and contracts, 75% of which is either directly from a federal agency, or a passthrough of federal funds via a collaborating organization. Below is a partial list STEM *training* programs that are designed to enhance education, workforce development and career success in STEM disciplines.


and Intelligent Systems


9. This program requires documentation (i.e. theses, dissertation, presentations, etc.) to go through the AFRL public affairs review process. Would this present a challenge for your institution?



Research Administration and Compliance

10. Does your institution have an office of sponsored programs?

11. Does your institution have an approval process for seeking extramural funding? 

12. Does your institution accept federal award dollars and manage standard fiscal reporting, and compliance requirements? 

13. Does your institution provide guidance to PIs for budget development? 

14. Does your institution offer proposal development services? 

15. Does your institution offer research development services, e.g., assistance with finding research funding, proposal management, team formation/development, etc.? 

16. Does you institution offer research compliance training and education, i.e., roles and responsibilities of principal investigators? 

17. Does your institution have a designated Export Control Officer? 

18. Is your institution registered with the US State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls? 

19. Does your institution currently perform Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI/ NIST 800-171 compliant) research? 

20. Does your institution currently perform research subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations? 

21. Does your institution have a DoD Facility Security Clearance (FCL)?  


ML-RCP Program Expectations

22. The objective of the AFRL ML-RCP is to enable and enhance the research capabilities of the HBCU’s/MSIs through collaborative research efforts with AFRL. What would be necessary for you to receive to meet this objective? 


SDSU faces special challenges as a research institution in the California State University System. Because of founding state legislation for the California state systems (CSU and UC), SDSU receives no state allocation to support research activities. To make this challenge concrete, all of SDSU’s research infrastructure pre/postaward, all compliance infrastructure etc. is funded via F&A collected on grants and contracts. That same infrastructure in at the UC campuses is funded by the UC system, which means that a large proportion of F&A (or indirect) goes directly to the institution for reinvestment into research building, equipment, and other onetime infrastructure. SDSU benefits most from programs that fund resources not typically grant funded: 1) equipment – and the maintenance and operational personnel to optimize the utility of the equipment; 2) administrative support – SDSU faculty are dedicated to the teacher/scholar model, which means research active faculty are typically teaching two courses per semester. Faculty at institutions with a similar research profile are often teaching one course per year; 3) Support for faculty lines – the innovative NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation, which fully funds faculty in a small number of targeted research areas for four years, has truly been transformational in our ability to focus faculty hiring and development along the topics where we have aspiration, and foundational expertise. In this model, NIH funds faculty salary for the first four years of the program. We (SDSU) collect and allocate permanent statefunded faculty lines to those faculty so that at the end of four years, they are fully transitioned to state funding. This approach allowed us to hire a cohort of 11 strategically aligned faculty and make a quantum leap in our research and scholarship related to environmental health, epidemiology, and public health education.

These are the things we most need: 1) equipment and operational staff; 2) permission to allocate federal funds to administrative staff in support of project management and execution; and 3) innovative ways to accelerate faculty hiring and development in strategic areas.